American Salad Dressing

What Mr. Fed Up learned today: ‘Italian’ salad dressing is an American creation.

Today I was in a small town in Italy’s Tuscan region. I ordered a salad and looked at the big bowl of plain vegetables in front of me. With out asking, the waiter quickly brought me a bottle of both extra-vergin olive oil and vinegar. While I do not doubt the quality of these locally sourced salad toppers, neither the oil or vinegar is something that I usually use much on a bowl full or raw leaves and vegetables. I just have never been too impressed with the stereotypical combo.

I then searched in my travel-snack-pack which goes with me on EVERY trip I take. It is filled with various seasoning, energy bars, drink mixes, mints, etc. Basically stuff to save me from ever going hungry and helping me battle any potential blandness I may face on my adventures. I found a pouch of ‘Italian’ salad dressing and then started to wonder… Do Italians eat Italian dressing?

Nope.

Italian dressing is as Italian as the Cesar salad, or the typical doughy delivery pizzas many of us are most familiar with. They are all American creations with a few basic elements of Italian components (the Cesar salad was actually created just South of the California border in Mexico by an Italian immigrant who named his salad invention after his own first name: ‘Cesar’, and it has nothing to do with the famous guy from Rome).

Our local Italian guide laughed at my Italian dressing and tried to push the oil and vinegar on me. While I often try to accept the local culinary cuisines and cultures, I skipped the traditional oil-vinegar combo for my packet of Kraft Italian dressing which I really do like the taste of. For me, this is just one of thoses cases where combining the best of two cultures’s cuisines, creates the tastiest results.

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Categories: Rants, Unexpected Randomness

Author:Mr. Fed Up

A guy looking for good grub. and YES....I have a website...and I am not going to bore you with one of those personal journal type of blogs. I promise. Check it out; www.FedUpFood.com

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25 Comments on “American Salad Dressing”

  1. July 2, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Seriously? You might as well have pulled out your bottle of Ranch from your American flag fanny pack full of Snickers and Ketchup packets. I’m all for eating what you like, but to not even try is almost insulting.

    and to save you some future dismay, there is no French dressing in France.

    • July 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

      Hey guys, I am thrilled that I “stirred the pot” enough to justify your comments. I just hope you all actually read my full post… I simply am not a huge fan of oil and vinegar… And after more than a week in Italy, I was just looking for something ‘familiar’ and comforting.
      I do a pretty decent job of enjoying the local stuff, but I spend close to 100 days of the year on the road… And sometimes you just want to eat something from home.

      I try hard NOT to play the role of the loud-mouth, inconsiderate, American traveler. I avoid insulting a countries cuisine or culture while in their presence…. I keep my food ‘rants’ here on Fed Up.
      So while I do a decent job adapting to the culture(today alone three separate people mistook me for a local resident of the Italian town of Siena), I still do occasionally forgo authentic meals in presence of a little taste of home.
      I really am grateful for your comments and the dialog that now has the opportunity to develop. I actually am TRULY happy to hear others support a country’s culinary identity so verbally. As the world gets smaller and so many cultures are merging, I really am afraid that some unique cuisines and traditions may get lost.

    • July 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      Oh… And that may have to be another ‘rang’ about the French dressing… I am working in Paris in a few months…

      Just kidding, I think one salad dressing complaint is enough for this year.

  2. July 2, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    In my experience, Tuscans have some serious disdain for salad in the first place, which may explain why they don’t put much effort into their dressing. Still, I literally had to go back and read this a second time to make sure I understood correctly that you actually carry Italian dressing around with you. I say, when in Tuscany, just eat something other than salad.

    • July 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Ha, you are right that the Tuscans don’t make a big fuss about salad… But when they have so many other tastier things available; then who could blame them.

      Yes…sadly I DO travel with various salad dressing packets, hot sauce, seasonings, etc. I just travel around a hundred days the year, and sometimes I just don’t want to eat the ‘local’ cuisine. The truly authentic stuff is often amazing, but after weeks on the road, a taste of home is all I want. My Cajun seasoning has saved me countless times from suffering homesick evenings where all I want is some grub from a local restaurant near my house in Louisiana.
      Thanks for reading… And I am completely cool with laughing at my own ridiculous travel habits.

  3. elangomatt
    July 2, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    I actually don’t see a bit deal here at all. I think Kraft Italian dressing is probably more authentic than your local Italian guide cares to admit. As far as I can tell, Kraft Italian dressing contains your standard oil and vinegar along with some herbs/spices and some kind of emulsifier to keep it from separating too badly in the bottle.

    • July 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

      Hi Elangomatt!
      Yep, you are most likely correct in that “Italian” dressing is pretty similar to what is actually offered in Italy(just in a convenient, pre-mixed, package). I do know that is far more comparable, than say…”Russian” dressing. While in Russia, the salads that I was served in the Cacaus mountain range (rural area of Russia) was basically a thick yogurt concoction. But Russia is a big country, so maybe there is something more similar in other areas.

      I just laugh at how many American products with names or labels that point to foreign origins, often cannot be found outside the USA. I still remember an Australian acquaintance telling me that no one in Australia drinks Fosters beer because they think it’s nasty, so the export it all out to America (I do not know how true this is). Things like the chop-suey, and chile-con-queso really are American foods that are difficult to find outside of the USA (or at least in a place serving traditional cuisine of their respective country).
      Thanks for reading… And while this is not a BIG deal, I felt it deserved a quick ‘rant’, as this is what Fed Up is for.
      Thanks dude.

      • July 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

        Sorry, I wasn’t trying to say you couldn’t rant about it at all. I actually was trying to say that the Italian guide shouldn’t make a big deal out of it since it is closer to what he uses on his salad than what he cares to admit. You are welcome to use whatever you want on your salad, especially if you BYOD (bring your own dressing 🙂 ). I can also completely understand your wanting some more familiar tastes sometimes with how much you are away from home.

        Continuing on the track about American foods that try to act like they are international… Aren’t many of the popular things that American’s think of as Chinese food not really authentic. I’ve heard before that two of the most popular Chinese foods in the US (General Tso Chicken and Sweet and Sour *insert-meat-here*) are both pretty much American inventions and wouldn’t be found in China at all.

      • July 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

        No worries.

        And yep, i am pretty sure both those ‘Chinese’ dishes have American roots and were created in America by Asian immigrants trying to cater to American tastes and using what was around. I think fortune cookies are also American. I have NEVER seen a fortune cookie outside of the USA.

        But I love the combination of various cuisines into new dishes. There is a restaurant that was AMAZING, that I went to in Las Vegas. It was a merger of foods from Peru and Japan. Great stuff!

  4. July 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    I just grab the Olive Oil & Balsamic lately and add a ton of good stuff:) Happy Monday!

    • July 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      Happy Monday to you too!

      I am finding that the quality(and taste) of olive oil can REALLY vary. I think when I get back home, I will have to be a snob and only purchase the more expensive stuff, to make sure I get the one that tastes the best.

  5. July 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    😉 you blew it there … a wonderful opportunity to try the real thing, not the KRAP same-ol-same-ol

    • July 4, 2012 at 2:24 am #

      Haha… Sometimes, no matter how good the real authentic stuff is, all you want is the highly-processed, completely fake crud from your home.

      • July 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

        time to change the stuff in your home 😉 Start with sea salt instead of the ‘normal’ salt. All the best.

  6. Sylvie
    July 5, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    Olive oil and vinegar (no matter how high the quality), has always been kinda bland for me on salads…You should try to had mustard to the mix… It gives it a perfect ¨kick” and they usually have some on every table in Europe. Of course it doesn’t have the comforting effect…
    I’m sure the people there are more “offended” by the prepackaged form of your “italian” dressing than the content itself.

    • July 5, 2012 at 9:22 am #

      Hmmmm… Adding mustard sounds like a good idea. And in Europe, I bet I am more likely to find the more potent Dijon mustard, than the boring neon yellow stuff every US place seems to have on hand.

    • July 5, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      Not to mention that it’s the fat-free version that’s somehow cobbled together from HFCS and various gums and preservatives. 🙂 Not that they don’t have any of that stuff in Italy, but a much larger percentage of the population there is seriously offended by it.

      • July 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

        Yep… This stuff is FAR from natural… But if I am going to annoy the locals, I mine as well go all-the-way. I try not to do anything, unless I am trying 100%..haha

  7. Sylvie
    July 5, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    Yes, the fat free is not the most natural stuff. But most of all the Italians will not miss a chance to “tease” an american guy (even an open minded American guy that blends in really well) about food…

    • July 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      I am lucky I don’t mind looking like a fool and laughing at myself.

  8. Ben
    July 7, 2012 at 1:25 am #

    My thought is this. You traveled at least seven hours from the US, more if you live to the west and don’t understand college football. Eat the stuff they give you. I hated a few things I tried in Italy, but I loved so many more that I had never before encountered. Now I’m the annoying bastard that keeps putting anchovies where they don’t belong and loves the idea of fish eggs in pasta. You flew. Let the locals drive. At worst you can retreat to a steak or simple pasta. As to salads, don’t east them if they don’t appeal to you. At least ask for something different instead of making something exotic taste like something you are used to. Vacation achieved. Oh, eat Sardines wrapped in whatever the hell they give you: Nirvana.

    • July 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      On a hot Tuscan summer afternoon, a cool crisp salad just sounds very tasty… And after traveling for several weeks, sometimes I get a little homesick for foods that are familiar… Like good-ole, highly-processed Kraft dressing.

      Oh, and I will have to keep my eyes open for some anchovies. I have actually never tried then before.

      Thanks for reading.

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